If you have recently lost a loved one, you might be granted bereavement leave by your employer. This type of leave allows you to take time to make funeral arrangements, attend your loved one’s funeral, and to take care of certain post-death tasks. While a large number of employers offer this type of leave to their employees, giving bereavement leave is not mandated under federal law.
Oregon is the only state that mandates employers provide their workers with bereavement leave. In other states, the policies and practices for bereavement leave are left to the employers’ discretion. However, when workers are working under contracts or under collective bargaining agreements, their employers might be required to follow the established policy. Swartz Swidler is able to answer your questions about your rights to bereavement leave.
If your employer does not offer bereavement leave, you might need to take your sick leave when your loved one passes away. You can use your sick leave to make funeral arrangements, care for your ill family member, help a family member who needs medical, dental, or optical care, or care for someone who cannot care for herself because of childbirth.
Under the rules of the Office of Personnel Management, workers are able to take up to three days off from work to attend or to arrange the funeral of one of their immediate family members who were killed in combat zones while serving in the military. Police officers and firefighters are also entitled to take paid time off to attend a funeral of a coworker who has been killed in the line of duty.
Most businesses offer three paid days off from work for the death of immediate family members. Some provide workers with unpaid time off for bereavement if they must take time to handle legal affairs related to the deaths of their family members.
The FMLA and bereavement leave
Businesses that are covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act must give eligible employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year. The leave can be used to take care of health and family reasons. While bereavement leave is not specifically listed under the FMLA, you might be able to use some of your FMLA leave following the death of your family member.
You might be able to take FMLA leave to care for your dying family member. You might also be able to take FMLA leave to attend grief counseling while you are struggling after your loved one’s death. While this type of leave is unpaid, your employer must continue your health insurance while you are on your leave.
Notifying your employer
If you will need to take bereavement leave, it is important for you to give your employer as much notice as possible. Your employer might ask you to provide it with proof such as a funeral service program or an obituary.
If you have questions about bereavement leave and your rights, you might benefit by talking to the employment lawyers at Swartz Swidler. Call us today to learn more about your rights.